Summary: This is a sermon to create a powerful altar call and teach your congregation the importance of coming to the altar.
Last week was very cool. So many people coming to the altar to pray for our church, some giving their life to Jesus, it was just an amazing moment for our church. But I must say, I was a bit discouraged as well. The reason for my discouragement was that it had never happened before, no one really came to the altar. I just figured this just isn’t “come to the altar kind of folks”. However, after our cool moment last week, many of you came up to me and said, “it was so great that the altar was open this week!” What? The altar is open every week, or at least I thought so. Then it hit me, I had not done a great job at inviting you to the altar. I had not been clear or communicated well. In other words the problem wasn’t you it was me! So, this week I was on a mission to correct that. I want to be better at giving altar calls. So, I began studying the altar, invitations, altar calls, all that good stuff in Scripture.
I think I first need to describe what an altar is. Many of us know, but an altar is a structure that people (primarily in the OT) built or went to in order to pray to God, or offer sacrifices to God.
This was an interesting journey God took me on. I wanted to see some Biblical examples of people praying at the altar and why they did so. I wanted to see Jesus doing an altar call that would give me a model to work from so I could improve my altar call skills. However, what I discovered, is that Jesus takes away the need for an altar. We don't need to meet God anywhere, Jesus makes it possible to talk to God anywhere, we carry Him in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. We don’t need an altar to offer sacrifices, Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. The point I’m making here is that I could not find what I was looking for in the Bible; no model, no examples, nothing. The way we do altar calls today in church is just not supported in Scripture (or so I thought).
Here is where the journey gets interesting.
I was preparing to do a sermon that essentially does away with the altar call here. To preach it's not in the Bible, there is no need for it. It is an Old Testament thing. Then, I felt God impress upon me, and I mean strongly impress on me “you're wrong,” it's there. Although many of you may already know this, to me it was a revelation. After following God’s leading, I discovered people did go to the altar, Jesus had regular altar calls, it just looks a little different. Many times Jesus says; come to Me, fell at Jesus’ feet, fell at His feet asking forgiveness, fell at His feet praising Him, fell at His feet wanting to to be saved. Then it hit me, Jesus did not do away with the altar, He became the Altar.
With that in mind let us look at a story in Scripture that I believe displays the importance and power of coming to the new altar, the altar that is Jesus.
On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him.
This was not an unexpected visit, they were waiting, people were expecting the arrival of Jesus. Jesus was at rockstar status at this point. So this was a large crowd all wanting a glimpse, a touch of Jesus.
Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come home with him. His only daughter, who was about twelve years old, was dying. As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds.
So Jesus is going to go and heal this girl. No doubt Jairus was trying to clear the way but everyone is surrounding Jesus. Here we see one of the examples, Jarius FELL AT HIS FEET
A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure.
This woman is suffering from menstrual bleeding and has been for 12 years. This is important to know; when a woman was menstruating, she was considered unclean, she was not allowed to participate in the rituals of faith, nor was she allowed in the synagogue. She was considered unclean and so anything she touched was also considered unclean (remember this). So not only did this affect her medically, but spiritually as well. She was in all affects shunned, she was treated much like the lepers we read about